WASHINGTON -- Academic cheating is a growing problem that's become easier since the onset of the Internet. Now teachers at all levels have to be more vigilant to catch cheaters in the classroom.
A recent study by the Center for Academic Integrity found that 70 percent of college students admit to some sort of academic cheating. And 37 percent have used the Internet to plagiarize.
"I think when it comes to the Internet, they don't realize that copying from the Internet is the same thing as copying from a book," said Traci Leonardo.
Leonardo runs the Institute for Political Journalism, an academic internship program.
Recently, one of Leonardo's brightest students was expelled because she lifted an entire section of her paper off a Web site. When the student was confronted, she said she didn't realize that what she did was wrong.
"I think we need to start early, in middle school and in high school, about what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it," said Andrea Goodwin, the associate director of Student Conduct at the University of Maryland.
Part of the problem is that students now have easy access to a number of Web sites that offer papers on just about every novel, topic and theme taught in schools. Many students said the Internet is an easy way to get free information.
Several teachers have begun using ways to combat the problem.
Stephanie Batton, an English teacher at Robinson High School in Fairfax, said she uses Turnitin.com, an anti-plagiarism computer program.
The Web site allows students to turn in their papers on line and identifies suspicious papers. The site highlights sections of a student's paper that comes from another site. It also directs the teacher to exact site the information came from.
However, some students have learned how to rephrase passages to beat the system.
"It's problematic from a learning perspective because students aren't able to write on their own, analyze and come up with their own thoughts," said Batton.
Many teachers have said they have begun using creative assignments to prevent plagiarism and taking extra time when grading papers.
Plagarism Prevention: http://www.turnitin.com/